CYCLING PERFORMANCE TIPS
Last updated: 8/17/2010
YOUR RIDING GOAL
The 1st step in planning your training
As you begin to map out your training plan for the season, look ahead to
final ride or event that will be your season's goal. Once you have identified
the goal, you can begin the development of a training plan/schedule along
with a sound nutrition program to support the effort. Although each person's
personal goals will have their unique aspects, the following 6 examples
cover the usual range of daily, weekly, and final event/goal rides you
might be considering.
Two elements, ride length and ride intensity, have a major bearing on
planning - for the weekly mileage plan as well as how you can utilize
knowledge of nutritional physiology to eat smart to minimize the chances of
"running out of gas" along the way.
And when we do our planning, we will go into more detail (as covered in
Nutrition for Training and Performance)on the
specific nutritional needs for the:
- Length of the ride
- Training mileage is linked to the total ride length
- if the ride will be more than 2 hours (both training rides and
event ride), you will need to begin to think about oral Caloric supplements.
- The intensity of the ride
- if you will be riding at > 80% VO2max, intervals need to be part
of your training program
- if you are riding at > 80% VO2max, and for
more than 2 hours, you will definitely need carbohydrate supplements to
maintain internal muscle glycogen stores for what may become an anaerobic effort
Let's look at the six examples I mentioned above.
- PRE-EVENT INTERVAL
- 4 days to the event
- 4 hours prior to the event
- 4 minutes prior to the event
- DURING THE EVENT - both Calorie needs and fluid replacement
- POST EVENT
THE COMMUTE or SOCIAL RIDE
- Duration - less than 2 hours
- Intensity - 50 - 60% VO2max
This ride is done at a comfortable pace of 50-60% VO2 max. for 1 to
2 hours, often multiple days of the week. The goal is a comfortable ride with energy left
for the remainder of the day.
BASIC TRAINING RIDE (often referred to as LSD or
long, slow distance)
- Duration - 2+ hours
- Intensity - 50 to 100% VO2max
This ride is just a bit longer than the 2 hour limit that can
lead to the bonk, so snacking on the bike is important. As intensity
increases above 60%, it is more important to avoid eating in the 4 hour
pre-ride interval to avoid GI distress.
- Duration - generally less than 2 hours
- Intensity - 80 to 100% VO2max
For intervals, it is important to have your stomach empty or you risk the GI
distress (nausea) that results from exercising close to or above 100% VO2 max.
You will also sweat more so fluid replacement is a consideration. If
this is a ride of less than 1 1/2 to 2 hours, there is probably not a need
for carbohydrate supplements during the ride.
- Duration - more than 2 hours
- Intensity - 60 to 80% VO2max
This ride will definitely lead to the bonk if you don't replace
carbohydrates, so snacking on the bike is mandatory. A 300 gram carbohydrate
meal 3 to 4 hours before this ride helps "top off
the tank", so to speak, in terms of muscle glycogen stores.
- Duration - 1 - 4 hours
- Intensity - 80 to 100% VO2max
This is the ride that will let you know if you trained successfully,
and good nutrition and planning your eating
strategy can make a difference. You will need a good carbohydrate base
to maximize muscle glycogen reserves, and you need to avoid eating in
the 4 hour pre-event interval to keep your stomach empty or you risk the
GI distress that goes with exercising close to or above 100% VO2 max.
You will also sweat more so fluid replacement needs to be watched. If this
is a ride of more than 1 1/2 to 2 hours, you will need oral carbohydrate
supplements during the ride.
MULTI-DAY RIDE or BIKE TOUR
- Duration - multiday, 4 - 6 hours per day
- Intensity - 50 to 80% VO2max
This series of rides is basically the same as several long training rides, but
you need to careful that you eat a high carbohydrate meal each evening to replace the
muscle glycogen you metabolized that day or you will
slowly become glycogen depleted and chronic fatigue will develop. This can include
a post ride snack and a 300
gram carbohydrate meal each day, 3 to 4 hours before the ride, in addition to
a diet that is higher in carbohydrates than normal.
Tips for those trips that will include long back-to-back days
on the bike:
- Train with long back-to-back rides. You can train for a single century by riding long
once a week because the event calls for just one day of exertion -- and then you can rest.
But to build the stamina for a week (or two) of daily rides you should train with
several long, back to back, rides.
- Replace those Calories in training. When you're maxing those training miles, you need to replace
the Calories you are burning (and fluids too) to keep muscle glycogen stores intact. If you
skimp, you run the risk of increasing your level of fatigue.
- Respect your contact points. Keep your hands, feet and saddle area happy. Pain in any
of those areas can ruin a good adventure. Think twice about using new gear for the first
time on the ride.
- Beware of overtraining. It's tempting to put in big miles to prepare for the week. Going too
fast (and often) has its own set of risks. Train smart.
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